The wind turbine suppliers in Northern Denmark have so many skills and knowledge that they are able stay in the lead if only they know when to seize the opportunity and use one and other.
Per Henriksen, new chairman in Hub North sees the whole idea of the network as the only possibility to survive in the rough industry as a subcontractor to the wind turbine industry. With a twist of humor he sees crisis management as his own specialty during the past couple of years.
The new chairman is 57 years old, owner and CEO of Sander Plast A/S in Nibe and is also the chairman of Erhvevslederforum in Aalborg Samarbejdet. He has been the CEO of something since he left the business school. He is a buildings constructer and has worked with industrial mass production at ISS and Sophus Berendsen. For years, he had an entrepreneur business and in 2006 he bought Sander Plast.
-I bought it because the company was for sale, and to be honest, I had never seen a factory like that from the inside when I signed the contract. In 14 months I had doubled the turnover and thought I was God’s gift to the plastics industry. That suddenly changed in the fall of 2008 and since then I have primarily worked with crisis management. The plastics industry has been halved since 2008. We depend entirely on the technical industry, which were affected strongly by the global crisis.
Things are looking better
Now Per Henriksen is experiencing an increasing number of new projects emerging in different companies.
-I believe that things are changing. The really big challenge is when to grow and when not to grow. That sort of caution is both good and bad at the same time for a company.
First and foremost, Hub North has to be a hub or a network based on professional supply chains, says Per Henriksen.
-We have to create a business model that can comply with the global demands that the industry has – in a high and secure level. We have to keep as much of the industry in Denmark as possible but we also have to expand across our own border. The big wind turbine manufacturers have as many as 1000 subcontractors but all of the contractors have to stick together in an intelligent way so that they get better at facing new challenges. For example, Sander Plast has to work with people who have totally different skills than themselves. And so does other companies.
-What if a company are doing just fine by itself and don’t have the need for collaborating with others that might steal their knowledge and ideas?
-Then, sooner or later, the competitors from abroad will come. But they will find it more difficult establishing in Denmark if the Danish subcontractors have managed to find a way to use their huge knowledge and skills about the wind turbine industry in a common solution.
Hub North also has to be a hot spot, a sort of point of interest for the surroundings, not only in Denmark but abroad as well.
-The network is very broad already. The first challenge for me as a chairman is to get as many companies as possible to join together and create a base for a common starting point. We would very much like to see, that a German, English, Spanish or Chinese wind turbine manufacturer turns to Hub North to get a job done. It means that we have to seize the opportunity and be present at the markets where things are happening. Then the companies will know us in advance when they have a problem they need solved.
Per Henriksen doesn’t fear that the large and medium-large network companies doesn’t commit to the network because they are doing fine on their own.
-The large network companies have an advantage when it comes to their big business partners abroad. The reason is that thanks to Hub North, the Danish companies now offer a wider range of knowledge and skills on their broad shields. And that gives them more muscles.
No tiresome discussions
The Hub North chairman warns against ‘the very tiresome discussion’ that the wind networks in the different regions in Denmark are starting to compete with one and other.
-We have to keep focus not to start a regional argument about whether a test center has to be placed at Lindø, Risø or Aalborg University. The rest of the world still needs to see that we have the yellow jersey when it comes to the wind turbine industry and the only way we can do that is if we come together.
When it comes to the chairman, the network also has to watch out for “too many academic considerations”.
-We must not end up being a bureaucratic institution feeding various consultants. When it comes to a complex task we have to act fast. It’s all about business models. We have to be a team of hardcore business people with a skilled administration. If not, the members won’t spend time on the network. But I’m pretty calm at the moment because we are a number of pragmatics in the Steering Group says Per Henriksen.